Monday, 25 January 2016

Why I like App Stores . . .and it's nothing to do with walled gardens

App Stores: It's a concept that seems to divide opinion but I quite like them for the following reasons:

One credit-card stored in one place

If I have an app store, I have one means of payment. I can register my credit card (whatever type - I don't need to worry if you take Amex/Visa/MCard/Whatever and what country it's registered in, or what currency) in one place and know who the merchant is.

I don't have lots of different web-sites storing my card details. Or if I don't want you to store them (and I don't) then I don't have to type my details over and over again if I want to buy your software.

I can actually recognise the merchant name - I don't have to worry about 'xyz s/w holdings, Bermuda' and whether that's really the software/upgrade I bought or a scammer.

And neither does my card issuer, so my card doesn't get fraud-blocked when I need to spend 0.99 on an in-app purchase and it flags as suspicious.

And there's no 'minimum card value 10.00' restriction: In fact app-stores bundle-up purchases if you buy a lot of things on the same day.

Alternatively, I can buy vouchers for most app stores with cash and not have to worry about credit cards at all.

One user ID & password and one source of spam

I want to use your software or app. I'm happy to pay you for it - you put in the hard work so you should get my cash and that's all good.

What I don't want is to have to 'register an account' with you and have to remember yet another password.

I also don't want mail from you or 'selected partners'. 
No, really I don't.

If I've bought games (or anything else) I like then I'll sign up to your mailing list for updates and 'social' stuff, I'll follow you on Twitter or Facebook, but if I've just bought a hex editor or a GPS app then just take the money already.

I don't want 'a relationship'. If there's a new version, flag it in the store and I'll pick it up. The store's notify system will sort it all out for you.

One place to get all the updates

This is what prompted this post: One place that says 'nn updates available' so that I can click 'update all' and let it get on with it.

I have phones and laptops I don't turn on all that often. When I do, I just want to click a button marked 'update everything on my computer' and let it get on with it. 

Without any more hassle. 
Preferably in the background. 
Without me having to open every single app and click 'check for updates'.
Without me having to update your 'updater' program before I can check for updates.
And only having to type in my 'admin' password once, not once per app.
And really, really preferably, without having to reboot.

On a positive note:

Having run 6 separate updates, at least only one (an update to MacOS itself) has asked me to restart my computer. On Windows that request used to happen every time I updated anything - was it ever really necessary or did people do it 'just in case'?

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Watch out for 'watch' as a variable name in IBM BPM with V8+ coaches

Found an obscure issue the other day at a customer site - writing it up here in case I forget what the details were . .

In summary, if you have a variable called 'watch' in IBM BPM with next gen (V8 and above) coaches, you may see a conflict with dojo stateful trying to add a .watch function to your variable. At this point, your coach buttons will stop working - or your coach may not display at all. You will see an error in the browser console of the form ' is not a function'.

Using NG coaches with IBM BPM V8.5.0,1 and above, they were seeing issues in the browser console reporting that '.watch is not a function' and finding that they couldn't press the buttons on the coach.

This appeared to be random with no pattern that they could discern. Some coaches worked, others didn't

The only workaround they could find was to use a heritage (pre V8) coach, where the problem went away.

We did much googling of .watch and etc but couldn't find anything that would explain the 'randomness'

After walking through the process app, we finally spotted that they had a variable called 'watch' in one of the business objects, a couple of levels into the hierarchy.

This variable was sometimes used, sometimes not. In the hierarchy / object graph, that level was sometimes instantiated, sometimes not. When it was in use, the variable reference was , which conflicted with dojo stateful trying to add the .watch function onto the variable, hence '.watch is not a function'.

Process designer will stop you creating variables with java and javascript reserved words (try creating a variable called 'this' if you want to see it) but it doesn't catch everything. If nothing else, the 'watch' variable was created when the customer was on 7.5.1 and before NG coaches with lots of dojo and the .watch function.

Another one for the 'department of incredibly obscure issues' . ..

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Invalid web-site certificates? Check the obvious first: is the time on your VM image correct?

So, I'm downloading the MQ Explorer support pack.

I run a Mac, and this only works on Linux or Windows, so I fire up my Windows 7 VM image to do the necessary.

Onto the web-site, sign in, choose download method and get a 'This site does not have a valid certificate!' error in Chrome. Worrying! There's no obvious  'override this' in Chrome, so I try Firefox.

Firefox gives the 'This connection is Untrusted' page with the usual 'get me out of here/I understand the risks' options.

Now for internal web-servers, I'd normally hit 'I understand' - but this is an external one - and it's - it should be OK? But what if I've been Man-In-The-Middled somewhere? OK, it's my DSL-Fibre connection but better safe than sorry . .

Looking at the screen however, I see this:

The certificate is valid from 15/12/2015 (That's 15th December, if you're used to US date formats!)

"The current time is 08/12/2015 13:44" - er, not it's not! Today is the 16th January 2016 (16/01/2016). What's going on?

So I check the time on Windows in the VMWare - sure enough, it thinks it's still December. The Time Server sync hasn't fired yet or has glitched and I haven't used this VMWare for ages: Obviously since 8th December.

So, I resync the time and everything starts working! Yay!

But I never usually check the time on VMs - why would I? I assumed that the time-server sync is keeping me up to date. It usually syncs up OK, but obviously not often enough - or it can have an error with

So TL;DR: When firing up a VM, check and sync the VM time to the time server, every time. Then check it against your watch - just to be sure!